The Co-Optimization of Sustainable Aviation Fuel: Cost, Emissions, and Performance
The combustion of petroleum-based fuels contributes to increases in atmospheric CO2, contributing to climate change. As other sectors electrify, current battery technology makes this impractical for the aviation industry. The fastest pathway to reducing the carbon contributions of aviation is to create low or no net carbon-emitting drop-in petroleum alternatives. This research explores 3 potential sorghum derived jet fuel molecules from 4 different production routes, hydro-processed esters and fatty acids (HEFA), and Jet A, to identify how blends including these fuels could offer improved performance (MJ/kg, MJ/L) and improved emissions (gCO2/MJ) while minimizing costs. Different applications will value each target metric differently. This research utilizes the Jet Fuel Blend Optimizer (JudO) to create a 4-dimensional Pareto front across potential solutions. The molecules considered will not offer reduced cost compared to conventional jet fuel (Jet A), but they can be utilized to create blends with higher specific energy, greater energy density, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Considerations including carbon credits, the sale of byproducts, and the valuation of improved performance will make the proposed molecules more commercially viable. At the lowest region of GHG solutions, coupled with equivalent LCFS approximations, JudO determined blends that could achieve as high as 69% overall carbon reductions at a premium of $0.34/L.